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Albemarle calms concerns about oversupply, weak Chinese demand
- Albemarle reported better-than-expected quarterly results
Albemarle’s 2019 outlook helps calm investor fears of lower lithium prices from an oversupplied market, James Sheehan, an analyst at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey, said in a note. A 4 percent gain in prices in the fourth quarter, “supports our thesis that Albemarle can maintain stable pricing.”
Albemarle’s stock rose as much as 11 percent, the biggest intraday gain since May 2016. It was the best performer on the S&P 500 Index on Thursday. Santiago-based Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, the world’s second-largest producer, rose 2.4 percent for a second consecutive gain. Shares of Tianqi Lithium Corp., the third-largest, posted their highest closing price this year.
Charlotte, North Carolina-based Albemarle, which produces about a third of the world’s lithium, expects prices to remain flat or to increase this year. Prices for lithium carbonate, the most common form of the mineral, have fallen from historic highs, but still remain more than double the level of four years ago, according to monthly data by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
Global sales of electric vehicles soared 98 percent during the fourth quarter, Albemarle Chief Financial Officer Scott Tozier said Thursday on a conference call with analysts. The number of available plug-in hybrids and battery-electric models announced by automakers for 2021 has grown by almost 40 percent since mid-2017. As a result, demand for lithium carbonate equivalent will be about 475,000 tons by 2021 and 1 million tons by 2025, he said.
Large producers such as Albemarle, SQM and Tianqi will continue to dominate a space that might look oversupplied this year as new capacity comes in, Albemarle Chief Executive Officer Luke Kissam told analysts during the call. With new technologies demanding more lithium, the market will remain tight in coming years, he said.
“The momentum around electric vehicles has continued to accelerate,” Tozier said. “The demand curve has shifted higher and steepened,” he said, referring to lithium.
Plant set to boost local jobs and supply growing global demand for lithium, which is used in renewable energy storage
Earthworks for a new lithium hydroxide factory in Western Australia are expected to begin this month after the $1bn project received federal environmental approval.
The plant owned by the world’s largest lithium producer, the US chemical company Albemarle, was approved by the WA government in October and is estimated to create up to 500 jobs in construction, with another 100 to 500 operational jobs once it is operational.
Australia’s trade minister, Simon Birmingham, said the plant would provide a much-needed local jobs boost and supply a growing global demand for lithium, which is used in renewable energy storage.
“This is a welcome investment and vote of confidence in our local lithium industry that will help attract further investment into the future,” Birmingham said.
Albemarle announced on Thursday that earthworks at the site at Kemerton Strategic Industrial Estate, just north of Bunbury, were on track to begin soon.
“Achieving this milestone underscores our commitment and confidence in developing LiOH [lithium hydroxide] operations and in our overall strategy to drive significant shareholder value and meet our customers’ demands,” said Eric Norris, the president of Albemarle’s lithium division.
The plant will process spodumene ore from the Greenbushes lithium mine, about 90km south of the industrial estate, and produce 60,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide annually with capacity to expand to 100,000 tonnes.
It will also produce a byproduct of up to 200,000 tonnes of sodium sulfate, and a million tonnes of tailings per annum.
The company has been ordered to identify a new breeding and foraging habitat for WA’s three threatened black cockatoo species – Carnaby’s cockatoo, Forest red-tailed cockatoo, and Baudin’s black cockatoo – to offset habitat lost by clearing the 89ha plant site, including 54ha of coastal plain vegetation that is home to a number of threatened native orchids.
The director of the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Piers Verstegen, said the environmental impacts of the project were “manageable”.
“We think on the whole it’s a positive development for the south-west and one that could provide an alternative source of employment to the coal-based jobs in Collie,” Verstegen said.
Collie, about 70km east of Bunbury, is home to four of WA’s five coal-fired power stations, fed by two open-cut coalmines.
The Albemarle plan will run on gas, but Verstegen said he hoped the company would look into running it on renewable power.
WA is the world’s largest producer of lithium, and the plant at Kemerton is the second significant lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant approved in the state since 2016.
The state established a task force aimed at promoting the lithium industry last year, and the premier, Mark McGowan, met with the directors of Albemarle on a trip to Washington DC in February.
The demand for lithium-ion batteries continues to increase, driven by the growth in hybrid and electric vehicle (xEV) production and the use of lithium-ion batteries in energy storage systems (ESS), according to a report by metals, minerals and chemical industry consultancy firm Roskill.
The transition from a market dominated by portable electronics to a market led by lithium-ion batteries in xEVs and ESS has seen the requirements for larger batteries with greater battery capacity, longevity and reliability. These changing battery requirements have catalysed the production and use of higher nickel-cathode chemistries such as NCA, NCM 532 and NCM 622.
Roskill uses their inhouse automotive model to evaluate the changing demands of lithium-ion batteries, including demands for battery components, raw material requirements, and the possible impact of new technologies such as solid-state batteries on the overall demand for battery raw materials.
The strong demand growth forecast for lithium-ion batteries however requires many individual components to be produced in order to manufacture a lithium-ion battery cell. These include cathodes, anodes, separators, electrolyte salts and solutions, copper and aluminium foils, binders and cell cases, all of which require a wide array of materials and industrial expertise. The supply chain and production processes for these materials are complex and long, involving multiples stages, with over 150 established companies producing the 9 key components required for the final battery cell product.
The focus of the lithium-ion battery supply chain has been solidly centred in the Asian market, with over 87 per cent of lithium-ion battery cell producers profiled located in Asia, though several producers plan to construct new manufacturing facilities in Europe and the USA. These expansions will ultimately adjust to evolving demand, especially from the automotive industry. Nevertheless, while many market analyses only consider plug-in EVs, other types of electric vehicles such low speed EVs (LSEV) and mild hybrids (48V) must be also considered to obtain a better demand perspective.
Regulatory changes across all regions have accelerated the development and uptake of xEVs, with emissions standards, subsidies and incentives; and potential bans on the sale of combustion vehicles influencing automaker investments, future models and consumer choice. The on-going trend is considered irreversible, as OEMs and component manufacturers have invested heavily in production infrastructure and research and development capabilities for xEVs. Transportation and energy sectors will need to become cleaner, and lithium-ion batteries are currently the most suitable instrument to achieve that end.
In 2018, China remained the largest market for xEVs, with sales surpassing 1.0M units for the first time. China has supported the production and sales of xEVs in its domestic market through a series of subsidies and incentives, resulting in both cash or non-cash benefits. These subsidies were changed in January 2019 to reduce the benefits applied to lower range xEVs, impacting vehicles with ranges under 200km. As manufacturers now look to target vehicles with longer ranges to still qualify for subsidies, the requirements of lithium-ion batteries and the demand for the raw materials used in their manufacture is ever-changing.
The demand for raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries is expected to increase exponentially, as a result of both sales volumes and changing requirements for battery components. Lithium demand from lithium-ion batteries is forecast to grow by 26 per cent per year in the years to 2028, increasing from 136.7kt lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) to in excess of 1.4Mt LCE. Demand for nickel and cobalt will also experience considerable demand growth albeit their feedstock availability may be compromised. Beyond feedstock, the previous minerals and other relatively abundant materials as graphite and copper will face challenges, especially in the conversion capacity to process them into battery-grade materials.
British Airways has introduced a brand-new electric cab service at its Heathrow home, giving customers the opportunity to experience travelling in a legendary London taxi without leaving the airport.
The London Electric Vehicle Company taxi features Wi-Fi, phone, laptop and USB charging and a panoramic roof – great for plane spotting.
In addition, customers can expect a smooth ride, air-conditioning and a spacious cabin with room for all of customers’ hand luggage.
The taxis will join British Airways’ fleet of chauffeur-driven executive vehicles, to drive premium customers at risk of missing their connecting flight to meet their next aircraft.
Customers are met by the driver at the aircraft side and are driven directly to the aircraft side of their onward flight.
With every ride completely free of charge, there’s no need for customers to reach for their wallets.
Daljit Hayre, British Airways senior manager, Heathrow Customer Experience, said: “It’s great to see the reaction of customers when they’re met by a London taxi at the side of the aircraft, waiting to take them on to their next flight.
“They’ve told us how much they appreciate this gesture, plus they love the space in the vehicle for their hand baggage.
“We’re also really pleased that using new generation electric taxi reduces our carbon footprint.”
The initiative is part of British Airways’ long-term plan to reduce emissions from all vehicles at Heathrow and follows the introduction of electric aircraft pushback vehicles.
This is British Airways’ Centenary year.
The airline is investing £6.5 billion for customers over the next five years, including new aircraft, new cabins, new catering, new lounges, Wi-Fi, and new routes.
The rapid emergence of electric vehicles (EVs) and related autonomous driving technologies and mobility services is disrupting the global auto industry in ways that would have been unthinkable just five years ago.
Carmakers Ford and Volkswagen (VW) have forged a new low-carbon road transport partnership, which will see them work together to develop electric vehicles (EVs) and other clean technologies.
Unveiled on Tuesday (15 January), the collaborative agreement will initially see the two firms jointly develop a range of commercial vans and medium-sized pickup trucks, which will be launched across all of Ford and VW’s global markets in 2022.
Ford estimates that by collaborating on the development, manufacture and launch of these vehicles, the two companies will collectively save $500m (£387m) per year, starting in 2023.
Looking to the long-term, the agreement signed by Ford and VW also includes a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that the two companies will “investigate collaboration on autonomous vehicles, mobility services and further EVs”. The carmakers have both started to explore opportunities in these three fields on a standalone basis.
“It will not only drive significant efficiencies and help both companies improve their fitness, but also gives us the opportunity to collaborate on shaping the next era of mobility.”
VW’s chief executive Herbert Diess echoed these sentiments, adding that the partnership would enable both companies to “harness [their] collective resources, innovation capabilities and complementary market positions to even better serve millions of customers around the world”.
Both VW and Ford have stressed that the alliance will not involve any “cross-ownership” of product lines in the future. Funding made jointly will instead be funnelled into infrastructure and efficiency projects.
The announcement is the latest in a string of EV-related success stories for VW Group, which last week launched a new company focusing on EV charging solutions and renewable energy offerings.
Called the Elli Group, the new venture will be headquartered in Berlin and will develop and deliver products that assist the emergence and growth of the EV market, such as energy storage devices, charging points and ‘smart’ energy management systems.
VW has additionally confirmed this month that it will invest $800m in the expansion of its manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to install EV production lines at the facility.
The first EVs to be made at the plant will be ID CROZZ SUVs, which are fully-electric and will be launched in 2022. The model is one of 20 fully-electric vehicles which VW has committed to launching by 2030 as part of its EV strategy.
Ford, meanwhile, has pledged to bring 16 new fully-electric and 24 hybrid models to market by 2025 as part of its $11bn low-carbon transport plan. Launched in 2017, the first move detailed in the plan is for Ford to bring a fully-electric SUV to market in 2020.
Volvo EV technology investment
The news also comes as the venture capital arm of Volvo Group announced it has invested an undisclosed sum in Momentum Dynamics, a start-up focused on the wireless charging for EVs.
The Philadelphia-based company specialises in developing and commercialising high power inductive charging for the automotive and transportation industries.
“Momentum Dynamics’ technology and competence within inductive bi-directional transmission of electrical energy and information safely through air, water and ice will fit the harsh conditions under which our customers operate,” said Per Adamsson, Vice President at Volvo Group Venture Capital. “High capacity charging up to 300kW for trucks, buses, construction equipment, industrial and marine applications will support the electrified transition.”
Financial details of the investment were not disclosed, although Volvo said “the transaction has no significant impact on the Volvo Group’s earnings or financial position”.
Advocates of wireless charging argue that it could streamline charging for EVs, making it easier for drivers to top up batteries opportunistically through car parks or even roads that feature embedded wireless charging systems.
“For Volvo Group we are strengthening our competence and knowledge of charging and electricity distribution within the ecosystem around electric transportation and energy supply,” he said. “We see partnership, cooperation and investments as the way forward in a fast-changing environment.”
Volkswagen has been talking up plans to shake up the global electric vehicle market for a while, and it’s now starting to make good on that ambition with an $800 million (700 million euro) project to build battery-powered crossovers in Tennessee.
The German auto giant said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday that it will build a new assembly line at its Chattanooga plant to build ID. Crozz SUVs starting in 2022, using its “MEB” modular electric vehicle system. The project will create up to 1,000 new jobs at the plant, in addition to new jobs at suppliers, Volkswagen said.
“The U.S. is one of the most important locations for us and producing electric cars in Chattanooga is a key part of our growth strategy in North America,” CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement. “Together with our ongoing investments and this increase in local production, we are strengthening the foundation for sustainable growth of the Volkswagen brand in the U.S.”
The company has worked to overhaul its U.S. image after a costly diesel emissions scandal and management turnover, deploying billions of dollars to accelerate its electric vehicle offerings and sell 1 million of them annually by 2025. Its Tennessee investment also means that state will be a battery-vehicle powerhouse, as Nissan already builds Leaf compacts there at its sprawling Smyrna plant.
“The shift toward electric vehicles is a trend that can be seen worldwide, and Volkswagen’s decision to locate its first North American EV manufacturing facility in Chattanooga underscores Tennessee’s manufacturing strength and highly-skilled workforce,” Governor Bill Haslam said in a statement. “As one of Hamilton County’s top employers, these additional 1,000 jobs will have a lasting impact on the region.”
In total, Volkswagen aims to set up eight MEB plants in the coming years in Europe and China as well as North America. In addition to building the ID. CROZZ in Chattanooga, Volkswagen said it plans to sell the ID. BUZZ minivan in North America, the 21st-century version of its of VW bus.
The carmaker starts making ID. cars at its Zwickau, Germany, plant late this year. It’s also setting up MEB lines at German facilities in Emden, Hanover and Dresden facilities and Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. Electric products for China will come from Anting and Foshan plants, there Volkswagen said.
Total investment in electric vehicle technology is to reach 9 billion euros by 2023, the company said.
World’s insatiable appetite for batteries sparks multi billion pound lithium mining boom in Australia! Via abcnews
Growing demand for batteries for electric cars and power storage is driving increased investment in lithium mining in Western Australia. WA is currently supplying more than 40 per cent of the world’s lithium and a new mine in the Pilbara is the latest in a string of investments in the industry. The West Australian Government is now encouraging industry to build a battery factory in the state to capitalise on the boom.
Volkswagen to spend $50 billion on electric car ‘offensive’ – via Mining.com – Cadence Minerals (KDNC)
German automaker Volkswagen said Friday it will spend tens of billions of dollars refocusing the company on the making of electric cars, autonomous vehicles and new mobility services.
The Wolfsburg-based manufacturer, which plans to have some of the new offering in the market by 2023, said the 44-billion euro ($50 billion) investment in what CEO Herbert Diess describes as an “electric offensive,” includes an imminent partnership with US carmaker Ford Motor.
Both companies are fine-tuning details on a deal to jointly make a range of light commercial vehicles, and Dess hopes the agreement will be ready before the end of the year.
Collaboration between the two firms is viewed as a path to significant savings on research and development, while at the same time delivering big revenue.
Ford makes about 40% of all full-size pickups sold in the US, while VW sells almost 15% of the vehicles purchased in China, the world’s largest auto market.
“Volkswagen must become more efficient, more productive and more profitable in order to finance the high expenditure in the future and in order to stay competitive,” Diess said during the press conference.
He noted that Volkswagen was also “seriously considering involvement in battery production.”
One million e-cars
VW has been actively promoting the electric push by creating global production capacities for the construction of 1 million electric cars. On Wednesday, it announced it was converting three of its plants in Germany to build electric cars, ramping up production of zero-local emission cars ahead of tougher European emissions standards.
The company said it would begin local production of electric-powered vehicles at its facilities in Emden and Hannover in 2022, adding that a plant in Zwickau has already been designated for e-car production.
Recent studies show carmakers will need to add electric cars to their sales lineups to meet the new European Union rules on greenhouse gas emissions from 2021. They also highlight how German carmakers need to rethink their business as the growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to cost the country’s key auto industry about 75,000 jobs by 2030, according to a report carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute of Industrial Engineering.
Those figures, the institute said, were calculated on the assumption that by 2030, a quarter of all vehicles on Germany’s roads will be fully electric. Another 15% is expected to be hybrids, which combine an electric motor with a traditional internal combustion engine, and 60% of the cars will be powered by gasoline or diesel engines that are more fuel-efficient than today.
A more rapid adoption of electric vehicles could threaten up to 100,000 jobs, the study warned, adding that regardless of the final number, there will be suppliers that simply won’t be able to adapt their business model, especially among small- and medium-sized companies.
While relatively slow to catch onto the ongoing EV boom, German carmakers have stepped up their efforts in the wake of VW’s 2015 “diesel gate” emissions cheating scandal, which tainted the reputation of diesel cars and spurred a push towards more environmentally friendly engines.
BMW recently said raw materials needed for car batteries will grow 10-fold by 2025, adding it has been surprised by “just how quickly demand will accelerate”. BMW plans to offer 25 electrified vehicles by 2025 and, like many of its peers, it prefers nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries or NMC. EV pioneer Tesla’s favoured battery technology –nickel-cobalt-aluminum or NCA – already uses less than 3% cobalt.
Article by Mike Scott, Forbes
Large-scale energy storage used to be part of the future of energy. But it’s here now, and it’s going to become increasingly important in the years to come.
Clean energy researchers at Bloomberg NEF (BNEF) find that more than $1 trillion will be invested in the sector between now and 2040. The group’s latest Long-Term Energy Storage Outlook says that the “tumbling costs of utility-scale lithium-ion battery storage systems will transform the economic case for batteries in both the vehicle and the electricity sector”, predicting that prices will fall by 52% between 2018 and 2030, adding to the steep declines already experienced this decade.
This will lead to $1.2 trillion of investment flowing to the sector in the next 22 years, creating a cumulative capacity of 942GW, BNEF said. In the near term, the market will be dominated by South Korea and the US, but China will be the driving force from the 2020s onward.
Energy storage is key to helping governments decarbonize their economies by using more renewable energy because the dominant sources, wind and solar, are intermittent and do not provide constant power. “ Cheap batteries mean that wind and solar will increasingly be able to run when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining ,” the report says.
Logan Goldie-Scot, head of energy storage at BNEF, added: “We see energy storage growing to a point where it is equivalent to 7% of the total installed power capacity globally in 2040. The majority of storage capacity will be utility-scale until the mid-2030s, when behind the meter applications overtake.”
Behind-the-meter, or BTM, applications will be installed in business and industrial premises, and in millions of homes. For their owners, they will perform a variety of tasks, including shifting grid demand in order to reduce electricity costs, storing excess rooftop solar output, improving power quality and reliability, and earning fees for helping to smooth voltage on the grid.
Two thirds of installed capacity in 2040 will be in just nine markets – China, the US, India, Japan, Germany, France, Australia, South Korea and the UK, the Outlook says. However, there will also be rapid growth in other markets, especially emerging markets in Africa. Utilities are likely to “recognize increasingly that isolated assets combining solar, diesel and batteries are cheaper in far flung sites than either an extension of the main grid or a fossil-only generator,” the report says.
Energy storage can play a number of roles in the electricity system, helping to balance variable supply and demand, helping the grid operate more efficiently and allowing individual customers to cut their bills by cutting peak-time use . Eventually, it may be possible to aggregate lots of behind-the-meter projects to provide a viable alternative to utility-scale for many applications but it will take years before regulatory frameworks in some countries fully allow this, BNEF says.
Nonetheless, energy storage will become a practical alternative to new-build generation or network reinforcement, the analysts say.
But even with this rapid growth in the market, BNEF says that stationary storage sector will make up only 7% of total battery demand in 2040. “It will be dwarfed by the electrical vehicle market, which will more materially impact the supply-demand balance and prices for metals such as lithium and cobalt,” the Outlook concludes.